Chemical transportation safety in Africa
Chemicals arrive in Mombasa by ships and are then loaded on trucks for connecting transportation to East and Central Africa. The port Tema in Ghana supplies West Africa. The handling of chemicals at the ports is important to improve the chemical transportation safety. For this reason, ICCA, UNEP and chemical companies practice on site in close cooperation with authorities and logistics companies how to handle chemicals in a safe way and how to act in emergencies. Product leakages or fires due to inappropriate shipment and storage or transport pose a danger. Together with the port authorities, experts of the BASF fire department elaborate which steps have to be taken in case of emergency and who is responsible for which tasks. First and foremost, it is about what has to be done so that emergencies can be avoided.
"The workshops so far have shown us that the emergency preparedness has to be improved and adequate skills in case of an emergency have to be developed," said Dr. Anna Hitschler, project head and manager for Product Safety at BASF. In order to spread this knowledge, the project provides teaching materials on the secure handling of chemicals in English and French. This information is being communicated at the workshops and is also available online.
In addition, a "Hazard Mapping" is in progress, which brings together available statistics from African authorities. "We combine statistics of accidents with data about the most important traffic routes on which chemicals are transported. According to our experience all relevant data have already been gathered but not yet connected," explained Hitschler. By combining the data, potential places of accidents can be predicted and guidance for future transports can be given. If, for example, an accident blackspot on one of the major transport routes is near a water reservoir of a local community, then the project aims at elaborating recommendations to prevent further accidents.
The project is financed by ICCA for two years with about US$300,000 and is supported locally by UNEP with relevant contacts. Together with ICCA, BASF is in charge of the project and experts from Ludwigshafen are training authorities and other companies in Kenya and Ghana.
The project "Promoting Chemical Safety Management in the African Region" is part of the initiative "Responsible Care" of the chemical industry. The voluntary initiative aims to continuously improve issues of the chemical industry such as environment, health and safety as well as a transparent dialogue with different stakeholders.